With the elaborate requirements for the licensing of factories, including environmental impact assessments, it’s sickening to find manufacturing industries that never fully complied but have been operating for years.
Ideally, regular inspections should be carried out to ensure that the industries do not pose a health hazard to host communities.
This is a grave pointer to the fact that critical safety precautions are hardly ever enforced.
In Machakos County in the past few days, it has taken the intervention of Governor Alfred Mutua to force the closure of a factory suspected of polluting Athi River, a major source of water for the communities downstream.
If the county public health and national environmental officials did their work properly, the governor would never have had to get involved.
The closure of the Mavoko shoe factory is a painful but necessary decision to protect the people by preventing deadly substances from being discharged into their main source of water.
But it comes at a great cost, as this is an investment whose owners had hoped to realise a decent return from. Also, scores of people have lost their jobs.
It’s for this reason that the licensing officials and the National Environment Management Authority must be held accountable.
Our water bodies throughout the country are being blatantly polluted, and the time has come to put an end to this.
Nairobi River and others in the city remain the most visible examples of the harrowing impunity. But it’s not difficult to trace and punish the culprits.
It’s only fair, therefore, that the officials who process the applications for the establishment of these firms and clear their operations must not go scot-free.
It’s quite possible that some are compromised to look the other way as the licensing conditions are ignored or simply circumvented.